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Hikaru Dorodango 

Make] Projects 

hhiiilH ho/ 1 !/ tuMaal/ chare r\icf*f\\tat* 

build, hack, tweak, share, discover,- 

Hikaru Dorodango 

Written By: Jason Arnold 


Dirt (1) 

Water (1) 

Bucket (1) 

or containers for your dirt and mud. 

Screen (1) 

or sifter if you do not have dirt of a fine particulate. 

Plastic bags (1) 
Soft cloth (1) 


Everyone enjoyed playing in the mud as a child, right? Well, that's what you get to do with 
hikaru dorodango ("shining mud ball" in Japanese). Except this time, you don't just wash the 
mud off and forget about it. Instead, you create something beautiful and unique. You also 
form a surprisingly strong attachment to a piece of artwork that you create from something 
so mundane. 

Professor Fumio Kayo of the Kyoto University of Education has created an easy method that 
even children can follow. He used dorodango to study children's developmental psychology, 
and found that children would become attached to their mud and put tremendous effort into 
shaping and polishing their dorodango. The phenomenon was first made famous in Japan 
back in 2001 . I hope you too will enjoy this wonderful pastime. 

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Hikaru Dorodango 

Note: The finished dorodango pictured here were done by Bruce Gardner. Finished 
dorodango photos by Amelia Milazzo. 

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Hikaru Dorodango 

Step 1 — Make your mud. 

• Take some dirt — any dirt will do 
for this first step. You may want to 
pick a certain kind of dirt for its 
texture or color; this creates a very 
different final product. Choose dirt 
with the least amount of rocks and 
twigs in it. 

• Get your dirt, a bucket, and a little 
water. Mix them together until you 
create mud about the consistency 
of dough. 

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Hikaru Dorodango 

Step 2 — Form your core. 

• Take a handful of mud and begin 
shaping it into a sphere. Jostle and 
roll the mud back and forth to bring 
water to the surface. Roll and 
gently shake your dorodango while 
shaping it. 

• You need a smooth, round core to 
begin your dorodango. Shoot for 4" 
in diameter; larger makes it more 
difficult to manage. If there are any 
protrusions or depressions, fix 
them, or they will affect the final 
shape of your dorodango. I used 
adobe for my first dorodango and it 
formed a sphere very easily. 

• Add more dirt as needed to help 
absorb some of the moisture. Your 
sphere should become sticky to the 
touch, like paste. 

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Hikaru Dorodango 

Step 3 — Form your first layer. 

• Take a handful of fine dirt and sprinkle it over the sphere's surface. Continue to shape your 
sphere as you rub fine dirt into the surface; this helps to pull moisture out of the top layer. 

• While rubbing the dirt in, I use the curvature at the base of my thumb to brush off excess 
dust, rolling the ball with the left hand, shaping it with the right. Don't rub so much that you 
remove the added dirt or top layer already there. Continue this process to dry out the 

• Now it becomes harder to fix depressions and protrusions. I accidentally hit my dorodango 
against my bucket, and my final sphere had a 1" line in the surface that I just couldn't get 
rid of. 

• Proceed to the next step once your sphere is dry and firm enough to retain its shape. If the 
surface begins to crack, you can add a bit of water to the surface to help smooth it back 

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Hikaru Dorodango 

Step 4 — Create your dorodango sauna. 

• Put your dorodango in a plastic 
bag. Lay it on a soft surface such 
as a folded towel. Leave your 
sphere in the plastic bag for about 
half an hour — enough time for 
moisture to condense on the 
surface of the sphere and the bag. 
This step draws out some of the 
moisture still in the sphere. 

• Remove the ball from the bag and 
repeat, drying out the surface of 
the ball again. Then replace it in the 
bag for another "sweat." Do this 
about ten times, until it feels right. 
Each time you repeat it takes 
longer for moisture to condense on 
the sphere's surface. 

• Tip: Hasten by using your 
refrigerator, but be careful 
not to over-chill — it could ruin 
your dorodango, turning the bottom 
of it back into mud. For the first few 
sweats in the fridge, 20-30 minutes 
is enough. After the third or fourth 
sweat you can up the time to 1-2 
hours. If you need an extended 
break, bag your sphere and store it 
in a cool, dry area on a soft 

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Hikaru Dorodango 

Step 5 — Dust your dorodango. 

• For this step, you need a finer particulate of dirt. To see if your dirt is fine enough, pat it 
gently. If your hand has a fine layer of dust on it, you're good to go. If not, keep sifting to 
create finer dirt. Pat your dirt to get a fine layer of dust on your hand. Apply this dust all 
over your sphere's surface. Use the thumb-and-index-finger technique to remove excess 
dirt. Gently rub dust into the sphere's surface until it becomes dry. 

• The sphere's surface should now feel dry and dusty. Place it in a new plastic bag, so you 
don't get any excess water, and leave it for a longer sweat; try it in the fridge overnight. 

• Continue this process until you've removed all moisture from the sphere's surface. You 
can tell you've achieved this once dust no longer sticks to the sphere's surface. Afterward, 
place your sphere in a new bag for one final sweat. 

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Hikaru Dorodango 

Step 6 — Make it shine. 

• Remove your sphere from the bag, add another layer of dust, and gently rub it into the 
surface to get rid of the moisture. I grabbed my bucket of fine dirt and watched a movie 
while rubbing more and more dust into the surface before polishing my dorodango for the 
first time. 

• Now grab a nice soft cloth and proceed to very gently polish your sphere. If this creates 
scratches or marks on the surface, your sphere is still too wet. Repeat the sauna process. 
If after polishing for 10-20 minutes it looks fine, you may polish with more force. 

• I had to polish my sphere for over an hour until it shone. But the next day, it lost some of 
its luster because it still had moisture that had surfaced overnight. I repeated this step and 
ended up with a beautiful hikaru dorodango. And it has retained its luster. I am now 
addicted to making dorodango. Every chance I get, I teach friends and family how to make 

This project first appeared in CRAFT Volume 03 . pages 140-142. 

This document was last generated on 201 3-01 -1 6 01 :59:39 PM. 

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